Thousands without power, some school districts close as snow hits parts of Vancouver Island

Thousands without power, some school districts close as snow hits parts of Vancouver Island
Dean Stoltz / CHEK
About 7 inches of snow fell overnight in the Comox Valley.

Thousands of residents woke up to the ground covered by snow and no power on Monday morning following the latest cold front to pass over Vancouver Island.

Environment Canada issued a special weather alert to the majority of Vancouver Island on Sunday that residents could expect five to 10 cm of snow near coastal areas and up to 25 cm inland.

A strong frontal system from the Pacific, coupling with cold surface temperatures, brought some snow overnight and it will gradually transition to rain or wet snow mixed with rain this morning or by early afternoon on Monday.

To 8 am Comox received between 4 and 21 cm based on location while north Courtenay received 14 cm, Campbell River saw 18 cm and Tsitika Summit on Highway 19 between Sayward and Woss had 30 cm.

As a result of the weather, thousands of Vancouver Islanders woke up to no power.

According to BC Hydro, over 9,000 customers on Vanouver Island were without power, mostly north of Courtenay.

“Courtenay north has been hit really hard with this storm, 10 to 20 cm in a lot of areas which of course makes it very hard for our crews to get into areas to do the repairs they need,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk.

READ MORE: Snowfall warnings issued for Vancouver Island with up to 20 cm forecast

Some of the outages are still under investigation, while others are a direct result of trees and branches falling down across wires.

The largest outages affected residents in Alert Bay, Port Hardy, Port McNeil, Campbell River, and Comox.

More information on the affected areas can be found online at BC Hydro’s outages list.

As a result of the accumulated snowfall, the Campbell River School District (72), the Comox School District (71) and Vanouver Island North (85) announced they were closed for the day.

“Due to unsafe conditions, particularly on the side roads and sidewalks, all SD72 schools and district programs are closed today, Monday, December 6. Evening events or facility rentals for today are also cancelled,” reads a statement from the Campbell River School District.

Other school districts, including Nanaimo and Qualicum, remained open with all buses running as usual.

Municipal Public Works crews worked all day to clear roadways and Mainroad North Island had mulitple snowplows working up and down Highway 19 trying to clear the snow.

“The difficulty in this event is that it’s sitting right around zero degrees which causes almost a greasy snow so it does make for some harrowing driving conditions,” said Mainroad North Island Manager Chris Cowley.

Environment Canada continues to urge caution on the roads for Vancouver Islanders, suggesting that drivers be prepared to adjust speeds with changing road conditions.


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